Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Third Sunday Drive, Day Seven: Grand Teton and Yellowstone

To market, to market to buy a fat hog
Home again, home again jiggity jog!
--Nursery Rhyme

(I bet you thought I wouldn't find a youtube video for this.  You'd be wrong.  There are dozens of youtube videos for this nursery rhyme, but I'm not going to link to any of them.  They're all sickeningly sweet, imho.)

The Cowboy Cafe in Dubois serves a fine breakfast and is very popular.  The popularity may be due to the fact that there are few choices available.  And while it was possible to eat outside at a sidewalk table, we chose a table indoors, one that we shared with other guests.  Then to fill up the Saab's gas tank where we learned that BankofAmerica had finally, one week late, caught on to the fact that my debit card wasn't being used in Plains, Montana, so froze the account.  Really BofA, do I have to tell you every time I leave home?

Pinnacle Buttes (I think) near Brooks Lake, Wyoming

It's 65 miles from Dubois to Colter Bay Village in Grand Teton National Park, and the scenery along US 287 is stunning.  We pulled off a few times to snap some pictures, but just before noon we stopped to buy some supplies in the park.  The visitor center at Colter Bay is quite different from the ones I'm used to seeing in Glacier, Yosemite, or even Yellowstone next door.  There is a sign noting how the design of the building marked a "New Era."

The Jackson Lake Lodge introduced a new standard for national park architecture in the 1950s.  This building marked the transition in national parks from rustic to modern design.  Famed architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood revolutionized park architecture by combining modern materials with rustic accents, such as the wood grain-textured concrete seen on this building.
 Frankly, I prefer the old era, but I have to admit that the windows of the lodge offer quite a view--and since the whole western wall is glass, you get the complete panorama of the Teton Range and Jackson Lake, just outside the building.

 Jackson Lake and the Teton Range
Colter Bay Village, Wyoming

Just north of Grand Teton, the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway crosses into Yellowstone National Park.  In my experience, September is a great time to visit Yellowstone.  The kids are back in school, and you're competing with grandpa and grandma and their Winnebago for space.  This year was not that way.  While we didn't see a lot of kids, there were cars (and people) everywhere.  I don't recall ever seeing so many people at Old Faithful, and the parking lots at the different geyser basins were so full that I didn't bother even trying to get off the highway.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Teton Range through the trees
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

I found it hard to get a clear photo of the Yellowstone National Park sign, so many people were attempting the shot at the same time.  Most of them were in couples, and had to take a shot with one or the other hanging on the sign.   At Lewis Falls, we pulled into the only open space I found and then battled the traffic to get a good shot of the 30' fall on the Lewis River.  At Yellowstone Lake, we drove around the parking lot several times before we found a place to park and have a late lunch.  Old Faithful's parking lot was similarly packed, but we were able to find a spot, park the car, and hike over to the viewing area just in time to catch the performance. 

Obligatory Old Faithful Shot
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Back in the car and headed north, I hated to drive by the Fountain Paint Pots, one of my favorite areas in the park, but the lot was jam-packed and people were parking along the roadway.  At this point, I was in my "Let's just get home" mode, and didn't care to deal with all the tourists.  At Madison Junction we turned west toward West Yellowstone, and about half-way along that road we once again found a spot where the roadside was clogged with parked cars.  Looking out the window, we saw a cow elk across the Madison River, and shortly thereafter found a place to pull the Saab off the road.  Who am I to turn down such a potential shot?  The cow was attractive, but once out of the car I saw that a lot of folk were gathered up ahead on our side of the river.  As I got closer, I saw a bull elk grazing, seemingly oblivious to the folk who were crowding around him.  This seemed like a disaster waiting to happen, and I have better sense than to stick my camera in a bull elk's face, but that's what telephoto lenses are for, right?  John and I climbed back into the car and were able to catch the guy from a safe distance.  Best shot I've ever taken of such a magnificent creature.

Bull Elk on the Madison River
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Before we knew it, we were out of the park, through West Yellowstone, and heading north toward Bozeman.  The elk was the last shot I took that day, and after dinner in Belgrade, we hit I-90 for home.  Alas, the day got to me, and the weather was turning nasty.  Rather than risk driving through the Hellgate Canyon in the dark battling a major storm, we stopped for the night in Deer Lodge.  The next day we continued on to Missoula, then finally to Plains, stopping only to take some shots of graffiti covered boxcars at Clinton.  The art was impressive, but so pornographic that I won't show it here.  Suffice it to say that by 2 p.m. we were home in Plains, having driven a total of 3,659 miles and having taken some 468 photos in ten states.  A very enjoyable Sunday Drive.

Oh, and the nursery rhyme with which I opened this post?  Once home I learned that Kevin had gone to the Sanders County Fair and bought not one but two fat hogs from the 4-H kids--meat that now resides in our freezer.

No comments: